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The MOT nightmares before Christmas 2

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Horror stories

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. The sound of sleigh bells could put even Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Christmas spirit - but the only bells some MOT testers heard this year were alarm bells!

Don’t let your car end up like some MOT testers found these. Take a look at these treats from our festive menu around the country.

Deck the halls, not the foot pedal

A brake pedal with a section of wooden decking affixed to it with black cable ties.

When it comes to Christmas, you’ll want to add some finishing touches to really make the days special.

David’s latest customer thought nothing of covering his foot pedals with an offcut of decking, painted nicely to match the carpet and mat, and fastened neatly with tie wraps.

When he asked if the original brake pedal was damaged, the customer replied ‘No my foot keeps missing the pedal’. Epic fail without even having to test the car!

Got any nuts?

A photo of a vehicle's suspension with lots of bolts missing.

Someone’s been squirrelling their nuts away judging by the suspension on this vehicle taken to Kevin’s MOT testing station.

He found one nut was missing and another only finger tight. The ball joint holding the hub and wheel assembly could have detached due to the loose and missing bolts.

If that had happened while it was being driven, the driver could have lost control of the vehicle. This could have caused a serious accident if the MOT tester hadn’t caught it.

Well mashed

An almost completely compressed spring coil.

Roast potatoes go well with a Christmas meal but these fuel filler and breather pipes were almost mashed by the rear coil spring in this suspension calamity.

The customer of this 2003 Renault Clio had no idea, saying it ‘drove fine’ and had been doing so for some time.  If the issue hadn’t been pointed out, the car could have had a dangerous fuel leak.

A right turkey

A badly cracked car wishbone

We know it’s a tradition to break a wishbone for good luck, but this owner didn’t get what they wanted when they took their Proton into Simon’s garage.  The owner mentioned 'the steering pulls a bit' but he wasn’t going to keep it long anyway.

Under the car, the tester could see a broken wishbone so the wheel and hub were floating about - no wonder the steering didn’t work properly.

It’s a good job that Simon’s garage spotted this as the driver could have lost steering and the car could have crashed, injuring both himself and passengers.

The really scary thing - this was a taxi!

5 calling birds?

A nest of baby birds a tester found in a vehicle.

The fourth day of Christmas brings us 4 calling birds but this MOT tester found 5 cute chicks nestled in this car’s suspension.  Good job he raised a call to rescue them!

And finally…

We’re glad these issues were picked up by the UK’s hardworking MOT testers before any more damage could be done to the vehicles, driver or passengers.

Keep sending in your horror stories, explaining when, where and how you found them and we’ll feature some more on this blog soon.

Merry Christmas and have a safe time driving in 2019!

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  1. Comment by Jake posted on

    I have a couple of questions for the DVSA about testing the brake pad wear indicators on a vehicle. At the time I posted this comment there is no RfR for the brake pad wear warning device illuminated on the dashboard. There is a RfR in section 1.1.13 for the brake pads being worn down the wear indicator but the guidance notes only mention metal wear indicators or cuts in the pad. Does this RfR also apply to electronic wear sensors fitted to brake pads? And also can the electronic wear sensors be failed under the RfRs in section 4.11.a/b/c? It does not make sense to me to fail a vehicle on damaged/disconnected pad sensor wires if the pads are clearly ok and the brake pad wear warning light is not testable. Thank you.

    • Replies to Jake>

      Comment by Graham posted on

      As it says, if the brake pad is worn down to the wear sensor then it is a fail (meaning all types of wear sensor) But as with everything else you can only fail it if you can see it. If the inner pad looks like its wearing low with a wear sensor, and the light is on the dash, you shouldnt fail it unless you can see the contact from the wear sensor onto the disc. There could be a break in the wire causing the light to be on the dash. Stupid rule really. Pad wear sensors contact at the point were manufactures ADVISE that you change brake pads, sometimes this can be 6mm remaining (50% worn). Manufactures also recommend tyres are to be replaced at 3mm, not 1.6mm. Seems like double standards to me, dvsa are starting to raise the very low point of failure, raising the failure bar to service standard

  2. Comment by Cnp posted on

    Merry christmas and happy new year Julia / Testers
    Isit allowed to use a mobile phone if your pc is broken down?

    • Replies to Cnp>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi there

      Yes the system will allow you to record a test on a phone. However, you should record why you did this as it will show up in the test logs this has been done and it could look like fraudulent behaviour. If you explain why it happened, you should be ok.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Michael Anthony Hiscox posted on

        Also you should be at the IP Address your testing from if I'm not mistaken!!

  3. Comment by Pete posted on

    Hi can you answer a question for me.
    When the system is down as it is at the moment 19:30 pm 9th Jan and seeming the manual and guide is exclusively online how do we view them if we need to check something? Although it says from the system down/contingency screen that the manual and guide is still available it take you to the content screen but, when you click into a section it brings you back to the system down screen.

    Maybe you should think about adding a new refusal to test option or abort test option until this problem is solved. Luckly enough I'm just trying to do my annual training and not a test as I can see this being a very big headache if I was and needed to check something.
    Just another of the many oversights of the new system I guess?

  4. Comment by dave bs posted on

    can someone explain this. 2nd January, back to work after Christmas, 1st thing before loggin on to a test checked my tqi and risk guide. number of test 50 odd. average age 9, average time taken 45 mins fail rate low 50% (higher than average but also more tests than average) and Rag is green. looked again today same stats but rag rating is amber. who has this happened? and is this happening to other testers

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by gbr posted on

      Time for dvsa to be a bit more open about these risk ratings. How can you change your assessment without disclosing why this has happened especially when figures available to us have not changed.Manipulation of figures comes to mind

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by mgb posted on

      Nobody is going to tell you what youve done wrong. can you imagine failing someones car but not telling them the reason?Need to re think the rag system

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by mr G posted on

      dvsa not gonner tell you what you have done wrong otherwise everyone will be green If i remember rightly when siemens/atos were running the system you could check your performance and it used to highlight where you were higher or lower than national average and even if your own results had changed significantly since the previous month.Why not use that system ?would be much fairer

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by STUART posted on

      Yes, but not told why so how can we find out our “shortcomings “

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by michael posted on


      MOT special notice 12-18: MOT testing station applications, site reviews and MOT risk ratings
      Published 7 November 2018

      • Replies to michael>

        Comment by dave bs posted on

        yes but that don't explain why it changed with the month, I was under the understanding they only changed after the end of each month, also found I am not the only one this has happened to

        • Replies to dave bs>

          Comment by dave bs posted on

          sorry my last comment even confuses me and I wrote it, like I said on original post 1st thing January second before conducting any tests I checked my test quality info and RAG rating all good and RAG rating green for December, yet a week later in January my RAG rating is amber but the test quality info is the same, and no one from dvsa is responding, I know I'm not the only one this is happened too

    • Replies to dave bs>

      Comment by castrolrob posted on

      judging by my similar changes between yesterday and today the system is getting updated on the first sunday of the month so you come in Monday and your scores changed.mine went from amber to red while I was in Africa in first week of December,was red yesterday(sunday 3/2/19)amber today 4/2/19.what was so hard about telling us this?only change is fail rate down to 56% from 62%,all other figures more or less identical.

  5. Comment by Steve Hawkins posted on


    Can you look at the MOT advice line
    You are currently telling or giving advice to switch the Engine and ignition of when testing the rear service brake on the Mercedes Benz A and some B class models the advice is given on
    W168 W169 W176 and W246 this is totally wrong it should only apply to W168 A Class model. If the Engine or Ignition is on when testing the service brake on the rear wheels the ABS operates

    • Replies to Steve Hawkins>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Steve

      Vehicle technical data only goes as far as looking at unusual aspects for the general model title, such as 'A class' and does not drill further down to say, W168. This information comes from the manufacturer.

      We'll look into what we can do to make this information clearer.

  6. Comment by graham posted on

    nice to see all the comments lets all keep them coming shows we are doing are job properly and keeping are roads safe

  7. Comment by stevie posted on

    Happy newyear to all testers, and the staff at DVSA .

    • Replies to stevie>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      And thanks to all the hard work MOT testers have put in at their testing stations across the country.

  8. Comment by Simon R posted on

    Is it possible for someone from DVSA to clear up some queries about new limits for diesel smoke testing?
    Are we to assume that any sticker or plate with a number in it is for the diesel smoke limit?
    If the customer were to remove the sticker after failing the smoke test what limits do we apply for the retest? I have read elsewhere on the blog comments that you retest using the original limits, but surely this can’t be correct because if the vehicle was taken elsewhere it would be tested to default limits and what about subsequent tests?
    Some vehicles first used after 1/7/2008 have a plate limit higher than 1.5 but the update to our machine won’t let us put anything higher than 1.5. I spoke to the equipment manufacturer regarding this and they told me these were the limits they were given to include in the update? We can’t expect a vehicle to meet limits it wasn’t designed to meet when it was new? Is there a work around for this situation?

    • Replies to Simon R>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Simon

      You can usually find the smoke value of a vehicle on a VIN plate in a box, often in the bottom right hand corner of the VIN plate, such as 0.52 or 1.82. It could be on a separate plate with an ‘E’ in a circle followed by an ‘R’ and a number (representing the country granting the approval). Again the number will be in a box. These are the usual configurations, though others do exist.

      If a vehicle fails the emissions test on a plate value and it is presented for retest without the plate or is defaced, you should still test the vehicle to plate value.

      If you can’t programme the smoke value into your diesel smoke meter, you still need to test to these values. If the printout shows an incorrect test result, you’ll have to override this and changing the printout accordingly. We are currently looking at how we can best resolve this issue going forwards.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Maria posted on

        Surely if the plate value is removed prior to a retest then you have to retest as presented? If presented without a plate value then the default limit must be used? Or are you saying "as presented" does not count?

        • Replies to Maria>

          Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

          Hi Maria

          You carry out the retest to the plate value as you know what this is from the initial test print out and the customer is trying to defraud the test. Hopefully, by the time they come in for test the following year we will have the plate values as part of the emissions book.

        • Replies to Maria>

          Comment by gbr posted on

          if you could refuse to test if no plate value available this would save us testers alot of time looking for plates that may never have been there in the first place.Get it in the vsi and make manufacturers more accountable and stop customers removing these plates.It wont be long before these emissions plates(stickers in some cases )are available on ebay( if not already) which makes the whole emissions test a joke

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by gbr posted on

        So this vehicle failed its plate value emissions test then returned with plate removed or illegible. You say retest to plate value how can this be done when the tester cant read the plate?

        • Replies to gbr>

          Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on


          You carry out the retest to the plate value as you know what this is from the initial test print out and the customer is trying to defraud the test. Hopefully, by the time they come in for test the following year we will have the plate values as part of the emissions book.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by A Tester posted on

        I am not understanding this .How can you retest to a plate value thats no longer there. Do you not mean test to default limit?

        • Replies to A Tester>

          Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on


          No, you carry out the retest to the plate value as you know what this is from the initial test print out and the customer is trying to defraud the test. Hopefully, by the time they come in for test the following year we will have the plate values as part of the emissions book.

          • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

            Comment by Matt posted on

            What if the presenter "forgets" the print out?

          • Replies to Matt>

            Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

            Hi Matt

            If the presenter doesn't have a printout and can't remember the result, then the test will need to be done to default levels.

          • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

            Comment by m r Tester posted on

            what if it has come from another garage before having the plate value removed/defaced.There wont be a plate value recorded on the fail certificate do you test to default limit?

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by mr tester posted on

        would it not be a good idea to have the plate value as part of the vsi

        • Replies to mr tester>

          Comment by Simon R posted on

          Yes that would clear up any confusion or worry over owners removing or tampering with stickers, plates etc. Instead we have to keep a record of the limits we applied in case the vehicle returns for retest! I'm still unsure what would happen the year after the sticker/plate was removed, do we have to keep emission print outs for years?!! Some help on this would be really appreciated from DVSA. Maybe a special notice? Unless testers come on this comments section how on earth would we know the procedure for retesting a diesel vehicle that has had the plate/sticker removed? There is no mention of this in the testing manual.

          • Replies to Simon R>

            Comment by P MILES posted on

            And it still doesn't alter the fact that if I fail it on exceeding the plate limit but the presenter removes or defaces the sticker and takes it somewhere else then it gets tested to default limits and possibly passes. So it then has a perfectly legitimate pass for a vehicle which doesn't meet the required standards.

        • Replies to mr tester>

          Comment by Tony S posted on

          Hi Julia
          Surely if the presenter forgets his printout then the garage would have to refer to their copy which has to be retained for 3 months!

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Aylesburyjock posted on

        It has always made sense to me that we should retest to the smoke values of the original test, even if that value is now missing from the vehicle, as we have to keep our printout for three months with that value recorded on it. It is what most testers want to do, as we are fed up with the public taking the mickey in this fashion, but we don't know where this would leave us in the event of a customer complaint given that the official stance of DVSA has always been test as presented. If this new instruction is to be complied with we need it to be made official, by either putting it in the manual or issuing a special notice to this effect. Is this not possible? If i was to be threatened with disciplinary points from a VE for instance, I don't think I'll be covered by ' Julia on the blog said we had to.'

        • Replies to Aylesburyjock>

          Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on


          Testing to the original plate value at retest where it has been removed is the message we are giving to testers until we find a more appropriate way of getting the information across. We may consider issuing the information as part of the next special notice.

          • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

            Comment by Simon R posted on

            Hi Julia, how exactly are you giving this information regarding retests to testers, as far as im aware reading this blog and its comments is not mandatory for testers? The only reason the other testers I work with know this is because I told them I read it on here!! Im sure only a very small percentage of testers scroll down to the comments section. Yet you say you are only considering putting it in a special notice? I still don't see what happens if the sticker/plate is removed and the vehicle is taken for a retest elsewhere?

          • Replies to Simon R>

            Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

            Hi Simon

            Reading this blog is not mandatory reading for testers but it provides a forum for discussion and passing on information of interest and relevance.

            Where the plate/sticker is removed, currently we cannot do anything if they go for a test elsewhere as they will not have evidence of the previous value. In this case vehicles will be tested to default which is why we are still looking for a more permanent solution.

    • Replies to Simon R>

      Comment by Bert posted on

      surely if the plate limit is higher than 1.5 then you should be testing to the 1.5 limit anyway, you test to which ever is the lowest

      • Replies to Bert>

        Comment by Simon R posted on

        This was the case when the changes were first implemented but since then the wording has been changed to “For vehicles first used between 1 July 2008 and 31 December 2013, the smoke limit will be:
        •the level specified on the manufacturer's plate if available

      • Replies to Bert>

        Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

        Hi Bert

        For vehicles first used on or after 1 July 2008 you test to the plate value (where one exists) whether this is higher or lower than default.

        • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

          Comment by dave bs posted on

          I make a not of the plate test value when a vehicle is presented for test on my inspection sheet, so if a vehicle is brought for retest with the value defaced , I have it on record what it should be. I also believe it mat be usefull if we ever got a site visit, as I can show the V.I that I have proof I am testing to values on vehicles presented. I just think its good practice

          • Replies to dave bs>

            Comment by dave bs posted on

            also as testing stations should have emission print outs on site for 3 months so should have on record what the original limit was by checking records, if a vehicle has been presented for retest with its limit removed or defaced

  9. Comment by Bert posted on

    Out of curiosity, what failure criteria was used on the brake pedal if the grooved piece of wood wasn't loose?

  10. Comment by ali madadi posted on

    good to know

  11. Comment by Andy McRae posted on

    Merry Christmas to all. Hope you have a good one. ?

  12. Comment by Les Asquith xxx posted on

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year

  13. Comment by alan mirfin posted on

    good captions well done

  14. Comment by Geoff posted on

    Only the tip of the iceberg(THE VERY TIP)

  15. Comment by Gurmit posted on

    Well done merry Christmas

  16. Comment by Les Asquith posted on

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year

  17. Comment by Alan Morris posted on

    Think if thick metal is cracking on wishbones and the frame work of a car is too rusty it can fail at any time should be a law on the age of a car say 15 years or somthing no mater how much works done on a car can not fix the hole structure to make a car safe

  18. Comment by Geoff posted on

    Hi, I've always liked seeing these horror stories...they're almost like a bit of banter between yourselves and us testers, a bit of fun even though we all know it's definitely not funny! Useful too I think, especially for new or inexperienced NT's. I have to say though, that a picture does not always tell the full story...although most are obvious, some stories in the past have left me struggling to think what RfR (sorry, DEFECT!) was actually used to fail the vehicle. In fact it's sometimes not stated that the vehicle actually failed the test. I understand that you're limited by the pictures and info provided by us testers, but I feel that in some instances, referring to actual defects or advisories from the manual could help to round off these stories.
    I also wondered if the MOT service desk might provide some info on some of the enquiries they get...I'm sure there's a bit of a laugh to be had there and maybe a few eye openers for NT's!
    Anyway, I've packed up work for Christmas now so please, enjoy yours and have a good new year too!


    • Replies to Geoff>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Geoff

      Thank you for your comments. We will look into seeing if we can get some more information on the reasons the vehicles were failed. Most of the images we get are of vehicles that failed their MOT or were refused a test. We ask testers to provide as much information as possible on the item in the picture they've sent us, such as why it failed and on what.

      If you have any MOT horror stories from your garage, please send them to us

      Happy New Year!

  19. Comment by Eddy teasdale posted on

    We have a few pictures can we upload them to yourselves

    • Replies to Eddy teasdale>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Eddy

      You can submit photos for inclusion in our MOT horror stories by emailing them to along with a description of what was wrong with the vehicle.



  20. Comment by andy cripps posted on

    Very entertaining!

    "epic fail without having to test the car" Now I appreciate the sherry may have been opened and its the festive period, but your not supposed to fail ( or pass) a car without testing the car first! Or is that another change I must have missed!!

  21. Comment by David Daniel posted on

    It's Christmas give us a break.

  22. Comment by Robert Mark Pike posted on

    Nice to see testers are on the bauble. ?

  23. Comment by castrolrob posted on

    at least he used decking,most of which is advertised as anti slip!the scary bit of course is that if it was the clutch or throttle then pass no problem but we will save that discussion for another day.anyone driving an 03 clio has already suffered enough,that would be best described as a mercy killing.proton?didnt know there were any left outside of a scrapyard and that one sure aint gonna buck the trend!the birds nest only goes to highlight the state of summa the old wrecks that folks buy as a bargain,makes a nice change from the mice nests/munched wiring I normally see.just curious,are the testers concerned rag scores in the amber/red as a result of these old wrecks?.......

  24. Comment by Lawerence posted on

    Great stuff, we mot stations really do save lives !